Book 3: Chapter 109: Fetching the Flames
The duo finally arrived at the volcanic crater of Mt. Fuji with each other’s aid.
It was a ma.s.sive crater that had a perimeter of nearly a thousand meters and ash clouds fumed out from it all year long. The heatwaves ascending to the skies as well as the surging sparks left a deep impression in Lily’s and Haihime’s eyes.
Their heartbeats quickened when they gazed down at the orange lava beneath the vast abyss. The orange shade looked plain yet impressive and even felt a little dreamlike, and the two of them were only able to see it by taking a careful look with their spirit power enhanced vision.
It was possible to see the heatwaves and bubbles surging across the lava’s surface and even a Spirit Jade powerhouse would vaporize instantly if they were to fall into this lava.
This was the power of nature.
In comparison, Lily sensed her own insignificance even further and felt as if she had really become a powerless little girl.
The dark orange light from underneath illuminated the pitch-black rock walls with a l.u.s.ter and the light reflecting off them gave Lily and Haihime’s skin a magical glow.
Haihime felt embarra.s.sed after seeing the volcano’s condition, “Master, it looks like these outer flames aren’t enough to reach the temperature of grade 9 Eternal Flames, so we’ll need to fetch the flames from the depths of the crater. However, how do we do it? Even we won’t be able to survive the depths of the crater.”
“I’ve thought about this previously and actually came up with a few methods to do it. All we need to do now is…”
Lily drew her cursed katana out and manifested the demon hound from the surging grudge.
“Heh. I understand now,” Haihime also drew her blade out and released the white tiger.
The white tiger and the demon hound were formed from grudge, so a high temperature had no real effect on them. They would naturally perish because of the spiritual flux present in nature if they were to dive into the lava, but it wasn’t that much of an issue for them to withstand the heat from the lava.
If it weren’t for the fact that these grudge embodiments had a distance and time limit, Lily and Haihime would have remained behind at the foot of the mountain.
The demon hound and the white tiger dived down into the volcanic crater while holding a block of grade 9 Azure Dragon Wood in their jaws.
The two grudge beasts acted quite cautiously as they would have to reform on the cursed katana and start all over again if they were to slip down and fall into the lava.
The demon hound and the white tiger were both seasoned beasts with sharp senses and quick reactions. They arrived close to the lava about an hour1 later and collected the flames of Mt. Fuji by igniting the Azure Dragon Wood with the flames and rushed back to the crater’s surface. Unfortunately, the white tiger suffered a hit from a ma.s.sive crimson rock that flew out of the lava and ended up dissipating. The demon hound, however, had better luck and managed to return to the crater’s mouth with the torching wood block 3 hours later. The bundle of grade 9 flames was pretty small in size, but Lily and Haihime sensed the temperature rise up significantly the moment it got closer to them. Lily stored it within the mirror s.p.a.ce and incredibly enough, the heat from the flames stopped influencing the other regions in the mirror s.p.a.ce once the Azure Dragon Wood was placed into the stone lantern within the mirror s.p.a.ce, which was a pretty magical phenomenon.
As for the grade 9 Azure Dragon Wood, it would last for 3 years even if other grade 8 or higher coal, charcoal or oil weren’t used to fuel the flames of Mt. Fuji.
Lily also had a lot of Azure Dragon Wood, so it wasn’t that hard for her to conserve the flames.
The flames of Mt. Fuji required grade 8 or higher inflammable items as fuel to preserve their power, or else the power of the flames would dissipate pretty quickly. If normal charcoal were used to fuel them, they would burn into ashes the moment they were added in.
However, that age-old stone lantern was able to bear this kind of temperature incredibly.
Even if that were the case, Yuki-Onna still hovered to the other side discontentedly, “Keep these flames as far as possible from me. It’s so d.a.m.n hot.”
Lily used the Art of No-Thought and moved the stone table to the room with Lunar Blossom’s monolith that had become a room with 3 strata.
Now that she had obtained the flames, Lily had finally collected all the items required to smith Evil Slayer Yasutsuna. A sigh escaped her mouth as she knew it would be pretty difficult to obtain the flames of Mt. Fuji, but she never imagined that she would actually experience so many challenges on this trip.
However, Lily’s gains were also pretty impressive as the ‘Record of One Hundred Demons’ was a really rare treasure.
Also, Lily felt that it was worth the trouble no matter how dangerous or tiresome it was since she was able to rescue a woman like Haihime from the fetters of the monsters.
This was a new sister of hers2!
And any price was worth it for a sister34.
Setting aside things like sacrificing herself for the sake of friends.h.i.+p, even if there was a risk of getting chained and tortured after falling into the Demon Realm, Lily still wouldn’t have cowered at all!
Lily and Haihime descended the mountain and decided to return to the temple temporarily now that they had obtained the flames of Mt. Fuji5.
The descent was much faster.
Lily’s legs felt sore by the time they returned to the temple as she hadn’t sat down even for a single moment on their trip to the crater. After all, she couldn’t just sit down on the scathing rocks with nothing but underwear protecting her b.u.t.t, let alone sleep. Although it was possible to recover spirit power, physical and mental fatigue was just unavoidable.
Lily and Haihime lied side by side inside the room and allowed Yumi to ma.s.sage their bodies to relieve the fatigue. They were too tired to even change out of their dresses right now and simply made Yumi ma.s.sage them over their dresses.
They then took a bath and went to sleep.
Lily possessed a pretty healthy and energetic body, so she recovered completely after a wonderful session of sleep.
The cloudy skies were dyed in an ash-blue color and the temple didn’t have much snow inside it right now.
Lily dressed up in a white kimono patterned with a landscape dotted with blue flowers that had white plums embroidered at the center of the sleeves and wore the wooden sandals made from grade 9 wood like usual before going out of the temple and observed the villagers pack their luggage inside the temple quarters as all of them were living in the temple temporarily.
They treated Lily with even higher respect after learning that she was a genuine mirror girl as well. After all, Haihime’s mirror had long shattered and Lily was the only known holder of an intact ancient mirror in the Land of East, so they naturally regarded her as their leader.
Haihime, who was dressed in a blue kimono made of brocaded fabric and wore a white-furred light blue shawl around her neck, just happened to run across Lily at this moment.
“It’s time to leave this land now, Sister Haihime. Do you have any more yearnings left in your heart?”
Haihime looked at the scenery inside the temple, “It would be a lie if I were to say that I feel nothing for this view, but those emotions aren’t that deep. This view has accompanied me all this time and is the witness to my days of sorrow and humiliation. It might be better to leave this place.”
“I can rest a.s.sured then. The courtyard in Cherry Blossom Valley is still under construction though, so I’m afraid that conditions might not be that better than this place,” Lily continued.
Haihime held Lily’s hand, “I prefer living a life of outdoor camping with you as my master than living a life of luxury elsewhere.”
“Sister Haihime…” Lily felt moved as she sensed the softness of Haihime’s palm.
The villagers left the temple along with Lily, Haihime and Yumi once they were done packing and traversed along the trails of the Endless Demon Mountains, aiming for the valley hidden in the woods between Kai and s.h.i.+nano provinces—Cherry Blossom Valley.
A few of the cat-masked Itsura ninja were unwilling to leave, so they remained behind with the other monsters. It was quite likely that this abandoned temple would now become the haunting grounds of wild monsters, so all one could hope was that no pa.s.sing pitiful scholar decides to spend the night in this temple.
The Itsura who decided to follow Lily numbered just 30, excluding Haihime’s clansmen.
As Haihime was present, she commanded the Itsura to clear the way in advance and spread the warning from her. The monsters didn’t dare to show up after hearing that the mirror girl had killed Amanojaku, but they rejoiced inwardly after learning that Haihime was going to leave the Endless Demon Mountains. The Endless Demon Mountains had become ownerless once again, so a struggle to divide the power and establish hierarchy between the monsters who had territories under their control was bound to commence once again in the Endless Demon Mountains.
Lily and the villagers didn’t get attacked by any powerful monsters on their way, but a few wild minor demons still came out to eat people recklessly. However, the Itsura repelled them back with quite the ease.
However, the villagers only had themselves to blame for their bitter luck on this journey.
They spent 7 days walking in the mountains, and the village chief left this world during these days.
After learning that her clansmen will be able to receive a safe haven and knowing that the mirror girl’s legacy hadn’t ended, she left the world with a smile on her face and went to see Kimiko with a peace of mind.
The clansmen buried the village chief, and Lily and Haihime provided the eulogy for her.
Lily’s status was second only to Lord Kamakura, the apex powerhouse of the Land of East, a liege lord. The village chief couldn’t even have imagined that she would get such respect in the past.
The journey was quite slow because of the villagers and the heavy snow, so with no enemies barring their way, they spent a little over a month to leave the Endless Demon Mountains and arrive at the Kai province.
They were questioned by the Takeda clan’s cavalry when they pa.s.sed through Kai province’s Tsutsujigasaki Castle and got invited by Takeda to rest within the castle for a few days. Lily also met with Takeda and gifted a few of the grade 6 armors to him in pa.s.sing in order to express her grat.i.tude for gifting her the valley. Takeda was overjoyed by this and Lily used this chance to request him to sign over the rights to the valley under the name of Takeda Tsunen.o.bu.
Takeda naturally didn’t care much for a desolate valley on the borders of his territory, and he expressed his grat.i.tude for rescuing him with her bravery and intellect.
Lily ran into Itagaki n.o.buyos.h.i.+ after exiting the castle tower and got invited to his mansion to have tea with him.
“Brother Itagaki, I must thank you for pa.s.sing me the information on that night in Tsutsujigasaki Castle.”
“I was just acting according to my conscience and righteousness back then. You’re a woman who stands at the summit of the East now, Lady Kagami, so I feel quite honored that you were able to visit my home to have tea. I’m the one who needs to thank you for saving my lord’s life as that’s more important than saving his reputation.”
Lily bowed to him silently.
“However, Miss s.h.i.+mizu also visited me to talk about the day I divulged the information to you, Lady Kagami, but I wasn’t able to probe into it much deeper.”
“You don’t need to mind that, Brother Itagaki. So, you met with Sister s.h.i.+mizu then?” Lily asked calmly. The current Lily really didn’t need to fear the tricks of such a minor character.
“Yes. It looks like she isn’t planning to return to Kamakura and told me that she’s going to Owari. It’s difficult to find her tracks as she’s quite elusive and even I’m clueless about what she’s thinking.”
Lily nodded. She was also carrying out a pretty important and dangerous task back then, so she didn’t request s.h.i.+mizu to stay behind that insistently. However, she had the Cherry Blossom Valley now, so she wanted to live in the valley with s.h.i.+mizu if possible. They would be able to aid each other if they were together and this would also rea.s.sure Lily since the trip to Heian-kyo was strife with danger.
“By the way, have you heard anything about Miss Uesugi recently, Lady Kagami?” Itagaki finally got to the main topic.
Lily had roughly guessed that Itagaki liked Uesugi Rei, but this wasn’t something that she could interfere with. However, she believed that he wasn’t really a good match for a proud woman like her sister Uesugi, and he also knew this, which was the reason he never crossed the line with his words or actions until now. In the end, he was just worried about her.
Lily also regarded this man’s honest feelings quite highly.
“Sister Uesugi?” Now that he had mentioned her name, Lily finally recalled that she also didn’t know where Rei had gone to train. This time’s trip had been too long, so Lily thought that Rei might’ve returned to Kamakura or Echigo province by now. After all, she had been within the Endless Demon Mountains for too long, so she was cut off from any news.
Itagaki added after seeing the thoughtful look on Lily’s face, “Miss Uesugi is a free spirit and much braver and valiant than any men. Her talent with regards to advancement is much higher than mine, so I’m not usually that worried about her. However, she’s been quite close with Minamoto no Kenki and Taira no Seina recently, which has really left me a bit worried.”
The 20-year-old Itagaki, who had an aged face that made it look like he was in his forties or fifties, wore a worried frown.
“Taira no Seina?” It was Lily’s first time hearing this name.
“Ah. She’s the daughter of Taira no Kagemori, the clan head of East’s Taira clan. Taira no Seina, Minamoto no Kenki and a few others are pretty ostentatious people who aim too high. They don’t really possess much strength, but they’re always thinking about doing some world-shaking matter. I don’t really care much about these wealthy ladies, but it’s really quite worrying as Miss Uesugi is moving along with them.”
“To be honest, I’ve been exploring outside all this time, so I haven’t met with Sis in a long time, Brother Itagaki. I will make some inquiries about her once I return and send a ninja to inform you if I get any news,” The city of Kamakura had more information in comparison to Tsutsujigasaki Castle, which was a mountain fortress blocked by heavy snow in winter.
“I’ll have to thank you then, Lady Kagami.”
“You’re too polite, Brother Itagaki.”
“By the way, if you see Miss Uesugi, could you please advise her to maintain some distance from Minamoto no Kenki and Taira no Seina for me? Lest she… sigh. I won’t say anything further. I have one more thing to ask you, Lady Kagami. Your status is quite special right now, and you’re highly principled too, so I hope that you can warn Miss Uesugi for me… I know that I don’t have such qualifications, but all this is a show of my sincerity.”
“Feel free to mention it if you have something to say, Brother Itagaki.”
“I’ve heard some immodest rumors about Miss Uesugi, that she likes women. A personal matter like this isn’t something that I can get involved with, but she is after all the inheritor of the Uesugi clan and is obliged to pa.s.s on the Uesugi clan’s bloodline. If she doesn’t give birth to a scion, the Uesugi clan would fall into chaos for a long time, so I hope that she can reconsider things again. The Land of East has a lot of frank, upright and hotblooded men, so is there really no one that catches her eye? Must she pursue a woman?” Itagaki stated somewhat unenthusiastically in a depressed tone.
“Lord Itagaki,” Lily’s expression turned for the worse after hearing this, “This is a private matter and it’s really quite inappropriate to request a girl like me to tell this to Sister Uesugi. Please tell her this directly if you’re really worried about her. I’m in a rush, so I have bid farewell first.”
Itagaki was a bit astonished as he didn’t know why Lily had gotten upset.
However, Lily still acted with poise after getting up and left the mansion courteously after bowing to Itagaki.
The group left Tsutsujigasaki Castle and continued moving north, aiming for Cherry Blossom Valley via the woods. This area belonged to Takeda, so they were completely unhindered with his support.
Lily wasn’t really bothered by Itagaki’s final words while journeying. Although he had crossed the line a little with such words, he had spoken them with good intentions.
However, what Lily was really worried about were the two people that Itagaki had mentioned first, Minamoto no Kenki and Taira no Seina. The current world was a cruel place for kids who acted ostentatiously and aimed too high. Lily was worried that Rei would get implicated by them. Moreover, she had heard from Yoriko that Minamoto no Kenki had died from the grievous wounds he got from falling into the underground s.p.a.ce.
This made her question the ident.i.ty of the current Minamoto no Kenki and made her wonder whether it was just a coincidence that they had the same name.
The situation back then didn’t give Lily much leeway to investigate this deeply, but after learning that Rei was actually together with Minamoto no Kenki and his faction often, she felt quite worried about Rei since there seemed to be no news about her in a long time.6
- Silva: wow, it took an hour to go down?
- Robinxen: I’m not jealous.
- Robinxen: Agreed.
- Silva: You mean, part of your yuri harem?
- Robinxen: I just realised this was a huge fetch quest.
- Robinxen: The plot thiccens.